Protect your online activity

The Fi virtual private network (VPN) increases your protection from third-party monitoring. With the VPN, you can:
  • Stream, browse, and download on an automatically encrypted, private connection.
  • Shield against hackers on unsecure networks like public Wi-Fi.
  • Prevent websites from using your IP address to track your location.

VPNs use mobile data for automatic encryption and network optimizations. To make sure that you don’t lose connectivity, when your Wi-Fi connection is unusable, the VPN will move you to a cell network. If you're in the middle of a download, it might keep downloading over mobile data. To go back to Wi-Fi, try moving closer to your router or access point, or pick a different network.

When you use a Wi-Fi hotspot, the device you give the hotspot to doesn’t use the VPN unless you separately use a VPN on that device.

Important: If you’re using a corporate Google Fi account, the Fi VPN isn’t available. 
If you use Pixel 4 or up with Android 12 and up, your cellular, hotspot, and W+ data is also automatically encrypted and private through Fi’s virtual carrier network (VCN). Learn more about the VCN

When you use Fi VPN and VCN, your data usage increases. 

Turn the Fi VPN on or off
Important: Your phone must use Android 9 or up.

If you’re on an Android phone:

  1. Open the Google Fi app Fi.
  2. Scroll and tap Privacy & security.
  3. Turn Protect your online activity on or off.
    • On some devices, a dialog may pop up. Tap Got it and then OK.
  4. When the status bar shows the VPN key , you're connected to the VPN.
Important: Your iPhone must use iOS 13 or higher.

If you're on an iPhone:

  1. Open the Google Fi app Fi.
  2. Scroll to “Phone settings.”
  3. Tap Privacy & security.
  4. Turn on or off Protect your online activity.
  5. In the pop-up, tap Got it and then Allow.
  6. Enter your device passcode or fingerprint.
  7. When the status bar shows , you're connected.
How to know when Fi VPN isn't available on iPhone

When your VPN (virtual private network) isn't available on your iPhone, you get a notification on your Privacy & security page in the Fi app. Your VPN may not be available if:

  • Your Wi-Fi or current network blocks VPNs. To fix this problem, connect to a different network.
  • Our servers experience issues. Once we fix the problem, the VPN restarts automatically.

Important: You’ll always get a notification in the app when you're in a country or region that doesn’t allow VPN usage.

Know whether VPN is on or off

Android: If the VPN icon is in the status bar, the VPN is turned on.

iPhone and iPad: If the VPN icon  is displayed in the status bar, the VPN is turned on.

If you want the VPN on and the on status isn’t displayed in the status bar:

  1. Turn on the VPN.
  2. Check internet speed and connection.
  3. Restart your device.

If the VPN is still not on, troubleshoot the VPN.

VPN troubleshooting

VPN connection unavailable or grayed out

1. Check VPN available country/region list

If you’re outside these countries/regions the VPN setting is unavailable:
Where the VPN is available
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Faroe Islands
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • UK
  • US
  • US Minor Outlying Islands
  • Virgin Islands

If Fi VPN isn't available in your location, you get a notification.

2. Check device for system updates (OS)

The Fi VPN is only available on Android OS 9 or up or iOS 13 or up.

To check if your Android device has OS 9 or up:

  1. Go to Settings .
  2. Under "System," tap About phone or About tablet.
    • For Android O, tap Settings and then System.
  3. Tap System updates and then Check now.
    • If the device is up to date or runs Android OS 9 or up, continue to the next step.
    • If there’s a system update, download and install the update to check if that resolves the issue. The update may take a while.

Learn how to check for iPhone or iPad updates here.

3. Turn on Google Connectivity Services

Important: Google Connectivity Services aren’t available on BYOD devices, which include iPhone and iPad.
  1. Go to Settings .
  2. Tap Apps and then See all apps and then Menu  and then Show system.
  3. At the top, use the search button  to search for “Google Connectivity Services”.
  4. Tap Google Connectivity Services and make sure it’s turned on.
  5. Exit the Settings app and open the Google Fi app Fi.
  6. Scroll and tap Privacy & security.
  7. Check if you can turn “Protect your online activity” on.
    • On some devices, a dialog may pop up. Tap Got it and then OK.
  8. If the fix is successful, the status bar shows the VPN key  and you're connected to the VPN.
Apps, messages, or device feature doesn’t work when VPN is on

If your device has issues with these functions while Fi VPN is on, try to restart the VPN:

  • Sending calls, texts, or emails
  • Wi-Fi access
  • Ability to run apps correctly

To restart the VPN:

  1. Turn off the VPN.
  2. Repeat steps to turn VPN back on.
  3. Test the issue to check if it’s fixed after you restart the VPN.
  4. If the issue persists, contact Google Fi support.
Force streaming services to connect outside the VPN

By default, once the VPN is on, most apps connect through the VPN but some may not. Some apps may bypass the VPN so they can work as intended, such as smart home device apps and streaming services.

If a streaming service app doesn’t work but other apps do work when the Fi VPN is on, verify it’s a VPN issue. Check if these are both true:

  1. The status bar VPN key  is displayed.
    • The status bar VPN icon isn't available on BYOD devices.
  2. The streaming error specifies a “VPN” or ”anonymous proxy” issue, such as “It seems like you’re using an anonymous proxy or VPN.”
  3. If the first 2 steps are true, make an exception. Force the streaming service to connect outside the VPN.

To force an app to send its traffic outside the VPN:

  1. Open the Google Fi app .
  2. Scroll and tap Privacy & security and then Show details and then Manage advanced settings.
  3. Turn off Exceptions allowed.
  4. Tap Add an exception and select the app that you don’t want to use the VPN.
    • If you make an exception, that app always sends traffic outside the VPN.
  5. If the streaming service still doesn’t work, turn off the VPN.
  6. If the issue persists, contact Google Fi support.

These types of apps and connections are always exempt from the VPN:

  • Apps that are critical to provide reliable Fi service.
  • Traffic over your local network, such as your device's connection to your smart home devices, isn’t managed by the VPN.
  • Traffic over networks that are not Wi-Fi or cell networks.
  • Connections to your tethered devices.
  • Actions you take on your phone while your phone is in Airplane mode.
  • Some Google services and apps installed by your device manufacturer have system privileges that can bypass VPNs, such as Android or Apple notifications to your device.
  • Your secondary profiles on Android devices. The VPN is only active for your primary profile.
  • Custom DNS lookups are not supported. You can’t do external or local DNS lookups, such as Google Wi-Fi's On.Here functionality.
 

These types of apps and connections are exempt from the VPN unless you’re on a Pixel 4 or higher, with Android 12 and up: 

  • Connections to your tethered devices
  • Your secondary profiles on Android devices

If you’re on a Pixel 4 or above, with Android 12 and up, the VCN automatically encrypts your data when you use cellular, hotspot, and W+.

Important: With or without a VPN, an app can track what you do on that app. Make sure you trust an app before you download it.

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